Selaginella - Selaginellaceae

Selaginella goudotiana Spring var. abyssinica (Spring) Bizarri

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: BT. Wursten

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: BT. Wursten

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings

Photo: P. Ballings






Selaginella abyssinica Spring
Selaginella kirkii Baker
Selaginella whytei Hieron.
Selaginella goetzei Hieron.
Selaginella bueensis Hieron.
Selaginella preussii Hieron.
Selaginella molliceps sensu Bak.

Common name


Plant slender, semi-prostrate with a more or less erect branch system, not rooting along the stem, sometimes stoloniferous from the stem base, mostly lanceolate in outline and arranged in one plane, repeatedly branched, 3-40 cm long. Leaves dimorphous; median leaves adpressed, ovate in outline, with long tip half as long as the leaf, margins toothed, up to 3 × 1 mm; lateral leaves sessile, ovate to lanceolate in outline, asymmetrical, base oblique, apex rounded, margins toothed, up to 3 × 2 mm. Strobuli terminal on ultimate branches, up to 5 × 2 mm; sporophylls dimorphous: lateral sporophylls similar to lateral leaves but slightly larger, median sporophylls similar to median leaves but situated on the opposite side of the stem from the median leaves.


Can be confused with S. kraussiana which is widely creeping and roots along the length of the stem.


goudotiana: the type specimen was collected by M. Goudot in Madagascar; abyssinica: the variety was first described from Abyssinia (now Ethiopia).


Seasonally moist areas in evergreen and deciduous forest, along stream and earth banks, on mossy boulders and floor layer, light or deeply shaded.

Distribution worldwide

See African distribution.

Distribution in Africa

Angola, Benin, Burundi, Burundi, Congo, Dem. Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea (incl. Bioko), Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan, Tanzania , Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Growth form

Lithophytic, terrestrial.


  • Burrows, J.E. (1990) Southern African Ferns and Fern Allies. Frandsen, Sandton. Page 29. (Includes a picture).
  • Jacobsen, W.B.G. (1983) The Ferns and Fern Allies of Southern Africa. Butterworths, Durban and Pretoria. Pages 148 - 149. As Selaginella abyssinica
  • Kornas, J. (1979) Distribution and ecology of the Pteridophytes in Zambia. Polska Akademia Nauk Wydzial II Nauk Biologicznych. Pages 30 - 31. As Selaginella abyssinica
  • Roux, J.P. (2009) Synopsis of the Lycopodiophyta and Pteridophyta of Africa, Madagascar and neighbouring islands. Strelitzia 23, South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria. Page 23.
  • Roux, J.P. (2001) Conspectus of Southern African Pteridophyta. Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report, 13 Page 26. As Selaginella abyssinica
  • Schelpe, E.A.C.L.E. (1970) Pteridophyta. Flora Zambesiaca, 0 Pages 27 - 28. As Selaginella abyssinica (Includes a picture).
  • Verdcourt, B. (2005) Selaginellaceae. Flora of Tropical East Africa, Pages 19 - 20.